Angels race past Rays for rare winning streak

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[July 07, 2016]  ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jered Weaver is four years removed from being an All-Star and a 20-game winner, but he showed some of his old form Wednesday night.

Weaver allowed one run and four hits in six innings as the Los Angeles Angels cruised to a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

"This is the best stuff we've seen Weave have," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, even preferring this outing to a complete-game shutout two weeks ago against Oakland. "He had good life, was hitting his spots easy, good movement on his fastball. Everything seemed like it worked."

The Angels, winning back-to-back games for the first time in 17 days, gave him plenty of support early, building a 7-0 lead off Rays starter Drew Smyly (2-10), who hasn't won in his last nine starts.

Los Angeles (35-50) had lost 12 of 14 following a defeat in the series opener at Tampa Bay on Monday. Now, the Angels will be aiming to win the four-game series in the finale Thursday afternoon.

"Today, there's no doubt it was crisper," Scioscia said "Weave competes. We wouldn't expect anything different from him. We knew he was going to come out and compete, and as his stuff has picked up, he's getting better results. He's quietly throwing a lot of innings."

Tampa Bay (34-50) lost for the 18th time in 21 games, the team's worst stretch since 2007. Rays pitching has given up at least five runs in 18 of those 21 games.

The Rays compounded their pitching issues Wednesday by matching a season high with three errors, all on infield throws.

"We're not winning," Smyly said. "We're not playing well. I didn't pitch well. We didn't defend well. We didn't hit well. It starts with me. I've got to put up zeroes most of the time."

Smyly (2-10) gave up three soft singles to Jett Bandy, Andrelton Simmons and Yunel Escobar to lead off the third inning. He then issued a bases-loaded walk to Kole Calhoun for a 1-0 Angels lead.

Trout hit into a fielder's choice that would have been a double play, but Nick Franklin's throw to first was wide, allowing two runs to score. Albert Pujols added a sacrifice fly for a 4-0 lead.

The fourth inning was much the same.

Jefry Marte reached on an error by Evan Longoria and Johnny Giavotella singled, with both runners advancing on Bandy's sacrifice bunt. Simmons' sacrifice fly made it 5-0.

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Even the umpiring worked against the Rays.

Escobar was sent to first after he grabbed his hand in pain after an inside pitch, but the Rays challenged the call and replays showed the pitch never touched him. So Escobar went back to bat and promptly hit an RBI double for a 6-0 lead.

Smyly couldn't get an out in the fifth.

After Trout led off with his 18th home run for a 7-0 lead, he loaded the bases with a walk, a C.J. Cron double and another walk. Reliever Tyler Sturdevant came in and induced a 1-2-3 double play before getting Simmons to pop to center to get of the inning unscathed.

"It's a challenge," Smyly said of staying confident. "It's so weird. I take blame, but I feel like I'm making quality pitches ... I've got to do a better job."

Longoria finished with three hits, while Bandy and Escobar had two apiece for Los Angeles.

Rays catcher Curt Casali left the game after he was hit in the head with a bat on its backswing. He was announced as having a contusion on the left side of his head and Hank Conger replaced him in the seventh inning.

NOTES: Angels RHP Cory Rasmus, on the disabled list since June 13 with a groin injury, will undergo surgery Thursday due to the persistence of his injury. Mike Scioscia said Rasmus would likely miss a minimum of six weeks. ... The Angels placed OF Shane Robinson (sprained right ankle) on the 15-day disabled list and selected the contract of OF Todd Cunningham from Triple-A Salt Lake. ... The Rays designated LHP Dana Eveland for assignment Wednesday, one day after he gave up three runs on four hits in the ninth inning. Tampa Bay selected the contract of RHP Dylan Floro from Triple-A Durham. ... Rays RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery in May 2015) gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning in his first rehab appearance for Single-A Charlotte. He is likely to make five or six rehab starts, and he aims to return to the majors in early August.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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